Hey! Hockey’s back. Let’s pretend the pandemic doesn’t exist for a few minutes. The Caps just beat the Sabres, starting off the Laviolette era in a sloppy but successful manner.
Alex Ovechkin served up his Only True Center, Nicke Backstrom, who scored the first goal of the season. The Sabres responded with a power-play goal from Taylor Hall, who I am sad to report really does play for the Sabres now. TJ Oshie turned Ovechkin’s rebound into a goal, and that got us through the first period.
The second period was more of the (good) same, with John Carlson scoring on a breakaway. The Caps killed a penalty, and then Brenden Dillon finally got his first goal as a Cap. Tobias Reider got a greasy goal late in the period, but the Caps led 4-2 after two periods.
Winning a board battle and then making a swift pass across center ice, the Sabres made it a one-goal game early in the third, but Jakub Vrana responded immediately, stealing a puck from Eric Staal to score solo. With an extra attacker, Victor Olofsson buried a one-timer to make it a one-goal game late. No worries: Garnet Hathaway sunk an empty-netter.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 15, 2021
Dowd hits Staal in the head pic.twitter.com/Fnztvqur6j
— Ben Mathewson (Optimistic Sabres Fan) (@Ben_Mathewson) January 15, 2021
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 15, 2021
Well that’s one down.
What a strange game. We will need a lot more time to figure out the identity of this new iteration of the team, and I’m not sure how reliable these first ten days — containing four games against the Sabres — will be in that effort. Thursday night was a mix of preseason hockey languidness, but with frenzied moments of playoff intensity, but also with everyone seeming sorta doped up on quaaludes.
Still, this was a good effort overall. The Caps sure owned the puck a lot (with one Eller-shaped exception), though they didn’t protect their crease as well as I would have hoped. Also Ovechkin didn’t score like two or three goals, which just felt wrong to me.
Maybe he’ll rectify that on Friday night, when we do this exact same thing again. We’re back!
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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